After sharp criticism, three AfD members of parliament break off their trip to Russia and Donbass in Ukraine. “Mr (Christian) Blex said he was not in the Donbass and will end the trip,” said a spokeswoman for the AfD parliamentary group in North Rhine-Westphalia of the German Press Agency on Tuesday evening. According to a party spokesman in Berlin, Blex wrote to the federal executive via email that all three MPs had decided “not to travel further to the Donbass”.
“The trip to the Donbass was canceled. Nobody is going there,” said the spokesman. Blex is traveling with two members of the state parliament from Saxony-Anhalt, Hans-Thomas Tillschneider and Daniel Wald. ZDF had previously reported online about the cancellation of the trip.
The trip by the three AfD members of the state parliament has caused a great deal of misunderstanding since Monday. Representatives of other parties accused the AfD of siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin. There was also a shake of the head within the AfD. Above all, the planned visit to the Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine was criticized.
AfD leadership distances itself
According to their own statements, the AfD party leadership was not privy to the trip and distanced itself from it. “We do not support this trip,” said co-party and faction leader Tino Chrupalla on Tuesday in Berlin. Co-party leader Alice Weidel spoke of a “private trip” that had not been agreed with the parliamentary group and party. “The travel activity does not represent the position of the AfD either.” This will be worked on internally.
The AfD federal board had already dealt with the topic on Monday evening and made a decision. The three participants were asked to disclose the organization of the trip, said Chrupalla. In the board resolution, the politicians are also asked to “coordinate any communication related to the trip with the federal board in advance”.
The AfD parliamentary group in Saxony-Anhalt confirmed the participation of Tillschneider and Wald on Monday. According to a report by “Welt” (Wednesday), she took over the flight costs for her MPs. They were paid out as travel expenses in accordance with the Saxony-Anhalt Members’ Act by the AfD parliamentary group, as parliamentary group leader Oliver Kirchner confirmed on Tuesday at the request of the German Press Agency.
AfD man Blex: “We will make our own and undistorted picture”
Blex previously wrote on Facebook that he had left for the Russian Federation with his party friends Tillschneider and Wald. “On this trip we will get our own undistorted picture of the situation in the Donbass do.” He accused the “German pro-government media” of reporting “highly one-sidedly and incompletely” on the humanitarian situation of the people in the Donbass region.
Blex’ group had not previously been informed about the trip, said a spokeswoman for the dpa in Düsseldorf. At its meeting on Tuesday, the parliamentary group unanimously disapproved of the trip and demanded that the financing be disclosed. “The parliamentary group will decide on any disciplinary consequences after an assessment of the situation,” says a decision.
Head shaking in the parliamentary group
The AfD parliamentary group also shook their heads about the action on Tuesday. With a view to the upcoming state elections in Lower Saxony, there was also talk of a “Gau” behind closed doors. MP Joana Cotar said: “The trip to the Russian-occupied part of Ukraine is unacceptable and politically wrong. I expect a tough crackdown from the national board.”
The outgoing Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, accused the AfD politicians on Twitter of supporting the Russian “war of annihilation” with the planned visit to the Russian-occupied areas in eastern Ukraine.
Bundestag politicians from other parties sharply attacked the AfD. “All of this shows which side the AfD is on – on Putin’s side,” said Katja Mast, the first parliamentary director of the SPD parliamentary group. “Such trips are exploited by Putin’s propaganda machine and massively damage Germany’s reputation and interests. Damaging Germany is the aim of the AfD. That was, is and will remain so.”
“If you still need proof of whose side #noAfD is on – here it is,” Bundestag Vice President Katrin Göring-Eckardt (Greens) wrote on Twitter. The deputy FDP parliamentary group leader Konstantin Kuhle tweeted: “When AfD MPs travel to Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine to witness illegal referendums on the annexation of Russia, this is not a private trip, but the latest act of the AfD, which has been working well for both sides for years -Putin Pact.” (dpa)
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